Goddess of Love, Music, Beauty
(Ht-hr - House of Horus [the Elder])
She was a goddess of many things, among them she was a:
· Celestial goddess: The Mistress of Heaven
Goddess of love, music and beauty: the Goddess of Love, Cheerfulness,
Music, and Dance,
· Goddess of women, firtility, children and childbirth:
The Mother of Mothers, the Celestial Nurse,
· Goddess of destruction and drunkeness: The Vengeful
Eye of Ra, the Lady of Drunkeness,
· Goddess of the dead: Lady of the West
She was also known as the Mistress of Life, the Great Wild
Cow, the Golden One, the Mistress of Turquoise, Lady of Dendera
(her cult centre was located at Dendera), Mistress of Qis,
Lady to the Limit (of the Universe), Lady of Punt (perhaps
an area in present day Somalia), the Powerful One, the Mistress
of the Desert, Lady of the Southern Sycamore... and many other
The reason that she has so many names, one would assume, is
because she is an ancient goddess - she seems to have been
mentioned as early as the 2nd Dynasty. She may even have been
associated with the Narmer palette - although the two human
faced bovines may also have been a representation of the king.
It is interesting to note, though, that there is not a personal
name of the goddess mentioned in the list - they are all titles.
Another interesting thing about Hathor is found in one particular
Egyptian tale - when the hero of the story was born, the 'Seven
Hathors', disguised as seven young women, appeared and announced
his fate. They seemed to be linked with not only fortune telling,
but to being questioners of the soul on its way to the Land
of the West. These goddesses were worshiped in seven cities:
Heliopolis, Aphroditopolis, Sinai, Momemphis, Herakleopolis,
and Keset. They are linked to the Pleiades.
Generally, Hathor is pictured as a woman with cow's horns
with the sun between them (Eye of Ra, Golden One), or as a
beautiful woman with cow's ears, or a cow wearing the sun
disk between her horns, or even as a lioness or a lion-headed
woman (destruction and drunkeness). She often is seen carrying
a sistrum, an ancient musical instrument (hence a goddess
of music). The sycamore was sacred to her (Lady of the Southern
Sycamore). She is said to be the mother of the pharaoh, and
is often depicted in a nurturing role, suckling the pharaoh
when he was a child (hence a goddess of motherhood).
The Eye of Ra
One of the tales of Hathor was how she was originally a goddess
of destruction (Hathor-Sekhmet), and how she came to be the
goddess of happier things:
Then Ra took on the shape of a man and became the first Pharaoh,
ruling over the whole country for thousands and thousands
of years, and giving such harvests that for ever afterwards
the Egyptians spoke of the good things "which happened
in the time of Ra".
But, being in the form of a man, Ra grew old. In time men
no longer feared him or obeyed his laws. They laughed at him,
saying: "Look at Ra! His bones are like silver, his flesh
like gold, his hair is the colour of lapis lazuli!"
Ra was angry when he heard this, and he was more angry still
at the evil deeds which men were doing in disobedience to
his laws. So he called together the gods whom he had made
- Shu and Tefnut and Geb and Nut - and he also summoned Nun.
Soon the gods gathered about Ra in his Secret Place, and the
goddesses also. But mankind knew nothing of what was happening,
and continued to jeer at Ra and to break his commandments.
Then Ra spoke to Nun before the assembled gods: "Eldest
of the gods, you who made me; and you gods whom I have made:
look upon mankind who came into being at a glance of my Eye.
See how men plot against me; hear what they say of me; tell
me what I should do to them. For I will not destroy mankind
until I have heard what you advise."
Then Nun said: "My son Ra, the god greater than he who
made him and mightier than those whom he has created, turn
your mighty Eye upon them and send destruction upon them in
the form of your daughter, the goddess Sekhmet."
Ra answered: "Even now fear is falling upon them and
they are fleeing into the desert and hiding themselves in
the mountains in terror at the sound of my voice."
"Send against them the glance of your Eye in the form
Sekhmet!" cried all the other gods and goddesses, bowing
before Ra until their foreheads touched the ground.